Tuesday, October 25, 2016

AAR23: Lessons in the Air

Before the two F5As downed the Migs 15s, they were aware of other Mugabian aircraft that were inbound.  In a few minutes, they sighted two Mig17s at about four miles, slightly below.  The Migs apparently sited the F5s shortly after and adjusted their course.

Near the beginning of the dogfight,
the F5s would veer right and climb.

The F5s began to climb, again hoping to use altitude and speed as an advantage.  Meanwhile, two Mig21s on the deck, looped to the south.  The F5s and Mig17s closed with each other, with the F5s hoping to out climb the Migs and deny them shots.  The F5s didn't quite make it as the Migs lined up two consecutive deflection shots that failed to strike home.

Despite the F5s best effort, the Migs still get shots.

To the south, the Mig21s began to climb.  The Mig17s and F5s continued their encounter with the Migs again lining up shots and getting light damage, but just enough for a critical hit.  The result: engine out.  Though the F5 would escape the dogfight in the air, it would not make it home.

The Migs getting shots for 4 consecutive impulses,
result in the trailing F5 losing its engine.

The Mig21s, still nearly seven miles away, were able to site the fur-ball, but could do nothing about it.  Meanwhile the 1st Mig17 fired its last ammunition, scoring only a light hit and no damage on the F5. 

Now it was the F5's turn to shoot, and it scored a moderate hit that resulted in engine damage and seven turns of power for the first Mig17.  The Migs split in opposite directions, and the F5 fired its last burst scoring enough damage to cause an engine failure in the second Mig.  Two quick kills for the remaining F5.

One Mig trailing smoke and fleeing, the second Mig takes a hit.

Unfortunately, with no missiles or ammo left, the F5 was forced to return to base, yielding control of the sky over Objective B21 to the Mugabian Mig 21s that were soon to arrive.

Total air losses for the first day of the invasion:

2x G91 (one killed, one badly damaged)
4x F5E
2x F5A

3x Mig17
1x Mig21
2x Mig15


I still haven't figured out how to negate the advantage of the Russian guns.  Trying to dance the F5s around at the edges of Mig gun range, waiting for a Mig mistake did not work well.  Mostly it has resulted in costly mistakes by the F5s.  Similarly, trying to make higher speed diving passes, particularly at the Mig17s hasn't worked either.  The Migs17 turn fast enough to get shots as well, and if they hit, their long range high deflection shots do as much or more damage than solid medium range hits with the F5s 20mm.

The only good thing is that the Soviet built planes don't have a lot of ammo, so not so many shots, their western counterparts having almost twice as many shots. The Migs also seem to roll dice better.  Similarly, I have no solution for that either.

The mechanics of the game seem to work, though there are still a bunch of things relating to energy loss that I haven't incorporated yet.  But I'm not really sure if this is a success.  I have managed to get the dogfights onto the table, but there is still a lot of mapping involved in getting the planes onto the table, even after the tactical situation has materialized (more than I would like).

I'm going to continue with it for awhile, see if I can refine it to be more of what I'm looking for.  But I may well end up falling back on one of the published rule sets for longer ranged fights with missiles.

Though this last portion of the air battle over B21 ended in Uwanda's favor, things have not gone well overall in the air.  The ground battle was lost by the time the Mig21s arrived to control the air, so their arrival afforded no benefit to Mugabia, other than making a few Uwandans uncomfortable.

AAR23 concludes the battles of the first strategic turn of Uwanda's invasion of Mugabia.


I have played out the next strategic turn, which has yielded five ground battles and three air encounters. 

I've been working on new 15mm masters, molds and casting.  I am focusing on that at the moment, so there will be a little break before the next set of AARs.

Monday, October 24, 2016

AAR22: Evening Things Out

As battle was joined on the ground at Objective B21, a lone F5A Freedom Fighter flew lazy circles over the battlefield.  At higher altitude, two more F5As slowly orbited the same.  After brief discussion between the pilots, all three aircraft moved to engage the two enemy Mig15s that had failed to join the earlier action.

The two Mugabian Mig15s. 
I really need to get around to printing the decals for these.

The Mig15s were the second type of Jet aircraft flown by the Mugabian air force, replacing a few Ouragons left by the French after independence was gained.  Only a handful were still flying for Mugabia, largely replaced by Mig 17s, and more recently, the Mig21.  Elderly or not, the Mig15s rapidly advanced to perform their duty in the conflict with Uwanda.

Migs pursue the lone F5A.

The two Migs sighted the lone F5A in front of them, and plotted their attack.  At the appointed time, the F5 turned away from the oncoming Migs, but unwittingly allowed himself to get into gun range of the nearest Mig.  The Mig shot and hit, doing light damage, and knocking out the fire control of the F5.  Meanwhile the other two F5s, which were significantly higher and had moved south of the Migs, where nearly in firing position. 

As the Migs chased the first F5, they continued to take shots, but could not get hits, as the F5 opened up more distance between them.  Behind the Migs, the additional pair of F5s lined up for missile shots, but the second F5 could not get a lock-on. 

The pair of F5s moving into position.

With one missile away, the F5s continued to close on the Migs, and as the Aim9B struck and destroyed the first Mig, both F5s lined up shots on the second Mig, which began moving evasively. 

Beeb wants to play airplanes. 
Missile on its way.

The first F5 gunshot did light damage and scored a control hit on the Mig.  The Mig slowly turned into the F5s and dove.  Both F5s got high deflection shots on the Mig either missing, or causing no damage, before the last of the F5s finally got a light hit that with previous damage was just enough to cause structural failure of the Mig15.

The F5s score the first gun hit...
... and the last.

With both Migs shot down, the first, damaged, F5 flew home.  The other two F5s, with no functioning missiles and low on ammo, remained to protect the airspace above Objective B21.

Air losses on the first day thus far:

2x G91 (one killed, one badly damaged)
4x F5E
1x F5A

1x Mig17
1x Mig21
2x Mig15


The F5s ambushed the Migs15 via ground radar and poor sighting rolls on the part of the Migs.  Once the two F5s got behind the Migs, they should never have had a chance, but it still took nine gun shots with the surprisingly crappy 20mm Mk39 cannons on the F5s to kill the second Mig15.  Of the nine, all were medium to short range, only three hit, and one of those for zero damage due to the deflection penalty.

Still the superior climb rate and speed of the F5s finally came into play, allowing the first F5 to get away, after its initial error, and permitting the other F5s to rapidly get into position for the ambush.

Downing the Mig15s bought the ground forces at B21 a few more minutes of breathing room, but more Migs are no doubt on the way, and the F5s don't have much fight left in them.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Briefing in Mugabia

The President was a large and powerful man.  As he walked into conference room, his every move conveyed this in a most menacing way.  Once he was seated, his generals took there seats, each wishing that he would not have to speak.

Surprisingly he called first on his air marshal, a man who was already under great scrutiny, "Dear Mr. President, as you know, Uwanda has violated our borders, and our air space, but the People's Air Force has acted with quickness and great valor, and has inflicted  significant losses in the enemy.  We have indeed given, more than we have taken."

The Presidents face softened slightly, considering what was said.  "Thank you", he turned to the Supreme Marshal of Armed Forces, and asked, "And what have you to say?"

Without salutation and slightly rushed, he offered, "Uwandan forces have crossed the border in six places, ranging from the central region to the northern end of our mutual border.  They have taken the town at grid B21, and pushed our unsuspecting forces back, but they have made no significant progress at any of the locations in the north. We are currently activating units and formulating a plan to respond."

"Tell me Marshal, how is your family?" asked the President most thoughtfully, a weak smile escaping as he spoke.

"They are well sir", replied the Marshall, confused by this question.

"SO, you have had time to check the well-being of your family, but not to consider the well being of your nation?" The President seemed less thoughtful now, "Let me tell you sir, your family, and my family, are under attack.  Your nation, and myyyyyy nation, is under attack.  My family, and especially your family, are not doing well.  They are in fact, in very, great, danger. DO YOU UNDERSTAND!!!

"Yes sir, we will have the plan immediately," the Marshall managed to squeak out.

"Your plan is to counter-attack with whatever forces are readily available." thundered the President,  "You will expel those bugs from my nation, or I will expel you from this world." 

"Except for the air marshal, you are dismissed.  Get me the Soviet ambassador."

As a detail from the Presidential Guard was dispatched to "protect" the supreme marshall's family, the President sat in his office, admiring the beauty of the garden outside his window.  He waited for the Soviet ambassador, and for the vice marshal of the army.  Mugabia would need a better plan than that offered in the briefing, and just maybe, he could squeeze something extra from the Soviets as well.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

AAR21: No Plan Survives First Contact

Lt. Zuberi had seen battle before, but not on this scale.  The force was so large, it was both exhilarating and terrifying.  And he was proud.  Proud to follow his commander; proud to lead his men, the men of first platoon.  The order to advance came as he ended a silent prayer, " ...and please God, let me lead them well."

Uwandan forces advanced on Objective B21 in the first move (on the ground) in a much bigger war.  Uwanda was taking Mugabia's little border game and pushing it to the heart of Mugabia in an all out war.  Jets roared overhead in a battle that had already started, while Uwanda had yet to find the enemy on the ground.

Objective B-21 is to the right center of the map.

Uwanda's attacking force was as follows:

1x Saracen, 1x Jeep (HQ)
8x Centurion
6x Sherman Firefly
13x Saracen
3x Saladin
4x Ferret
2x M42
1x Bren
4x M7 Priest
Uwanda's view of the battlefield looking east.

The Mugabian president simply did not believe that Uwanda would escalate the conflict, and even if they did attack at Objective B21, they would never intend to advance beyond that point. The Mugabian force based at B21 had however, been beefed up, given its strategic position relative to the contested territory along the border.  The Mugabian defending force was as follows:

1x BTR60, 1x GAZ66, 1x GAZ69 HQ
3x T55
11x T34/85
10x BTR60
3x BRDM2
2x ZSU57
2x ZU23-2, 2x GAZ66
2x SU100
4x 122mm D30, 5x Truck
4x 122mm D30, 5x Truck

Word of the Uwandan build-up and probable advance had not yet reached the commander at B21.  He deployed his force on the western edge of the city, with a firm defensive line established by his SU100s, two platoons of T34s, and about a company of infantry.  He held a platoon of T55, another of T34, and a third of mechanized infantry in constant reserve, just in case.  He also had two batteries of 122mm guns and four anti-aircraft guns, including two of the impressive ZSU57s, to support his force.  Given past Uwandan actions, he was confident that his force could hold off any Uwandan attack.

The Mugabian view to the west, with some Mugabian forces deployed pre-battle.

The battle for objective B21 started off slowly with Uwandan recce of four Ferrets moving into position to locate and identify Mugabian forces.   Before they were detected, Mugabian forces, finally warned that Uwanda might launch an attack,  were alert and managed to spot a Ferret armored car making its way forward through a wooded area.  Artillery was called and successfully hit the armored car, and continued to pound the perimeter of the woods.

Mugabian arty pounds Uwandan recce.

This resulted in Uwanda dispatching two of its G91 attack aircraft to silence the Mugabian guns.  And indeed they did, destroying 6 of 8 122mm guns, and dispersing the remainder. An event that had a very adverse impact on Mugabian asuccess for the rest of the battle.

The Uwandan commander decided to have his Centurions advance to the edge of the trees center and south from the west and try to use the range of their guns to pick apart the Mugabian defenses.  The Uwandan infantry company would advance through the woods along the northern end of the board and attack Mugabian forces along the road extending north out of town.  All the while, Uwandan artillery and air support would hammer obstinate targets.

The Centurions got into position first, but simply could not find targets.  They advanced toward the Mugabians until they were able to find the enemy, and began to engage them.  They also requested artillery against the Mugabian defenses.

The Centurions quickly destroyed T34/85s in the Mugabian defensive line, but had a little more trouble with a pair of SU100s that took out a couple Centurions prior to their demise. 

At this point, a Uwanda Air Force Strikemaster flew over the battlefield looking for targets of opportunity only to be surprised by the ZSU57s, which scored a fatal hit on the Strikemaster.

A Strikemaster takes a hit.

A second Strikemaster succeeded in dropping bombs on part of the Mugabian reserve force, destroying a couple of APCs and infantry.

Centurions continued to pound the Mugabian line, as did friendly artillery.  Despite the losses, Mugabian RPGs moved into position and accounted for a couple more Centurions, causing the Uwanda advance to stall. During all of this, Uwandan infantry advanced through the woods, eventually running into the Mugabian infantry along the north road.

Mugabian infantry with armor support along the North Road.

Despite damage inflicted on the Centurions, they had caused a great burden to the Mugabian defenders.  The Mugabian commander decided to call on his T55s which quickly moved into position on a small hill east of the north road.

T55s on the rise.

The T55s and Centurions exchanged shots until two of the T55s were silenced.  The third withdrew, with plans of seeking better cover.  Once the T55s were dealt with the remaining Centurions, reinforced by Firefly,s continued the advance.

To the north, the Uwandan APCs, escorted by the Saladins, finally reached the open ground between the woods and the Mugabian line.  The Saladins attempted to deal with the remaining T34s, but had little success, further complicated by stubborn Mugabian infantry with RPGs.  In time support fire from the Fireflys met both the T34s and RPG gunners, and combined with steady artillery fire, finally caused the Mugabian line to break.

The time had come for Lt. Zuberi to do his job, and he gave the order for his men to dismount their Saracens.  His first image outside the APC was of destroyed Saracens and dead comrades, but the horror went un-acknowledged.  He had a job to do, and he simply did it.  He found himself and his men in open ground with no cover, and observed that the Mugabian's were already withdrawing in disorder.  He immediately ordered a clumsy advance into cover that had been the Mugabian defensive line.  As his men took up positions, Zuberi thought, "We are lucky, they are already broken."

By the time the Uwandan infantry began to dismount, their action had turned into a mopping up operation, as the Mugabians repeatedly failed morale and acted accordingly.  As his northern flank was rolled up, the Mugabian commander issued several orders for his reserves to first advance to support his southern defenses (picked apart by the Centurions), then to form a second defensive line in the south, and after the Uwandan advance didn't come in the south, to finally reinforce the north side of the battlefield.   In the end, only the T34s ever made there way north, and by that time it was too late.

A T34 that has come up the north road, turns to engage the Firflys.

The T34s did their best, but found themselves over-matched, taking fire from Fireflys and Centurions to the west, and Uwandan infantry with LAW rockest to the north.  Two of the three were quickly destroyed, with the third withdrawing despite being hit.

Arriving a little late, two Uwandan Magisters attacked the chaos in the Mugabian rear area, destroying various vehicles, until both aircraft took damage from anti-aircraft guns.

Easterly view of the battlefield late in the battle.  Destroyed Centurions
 in the foreground, buildings smoking from artillery strikes, and plumes of smoke
in the background caused by the Magisters.

The Mugabian commander lost control of his forces, as one by one, units were destroyed or lost their will to fight.  In time he ordered a general withdraw to those who were still listening.  As Mugabians withdrew, Uwandans advanced, occupying the town, and achieving the first objective of the invasion.

Uwanda armor advances against destroyed and retreating
Mugabian forces to the south.

The battle over, Mugabian remnants made their way east, while the victors carefully advanced through the city, collected prisoners, and tended to wounded on both sides.

The Mugabian commander heading east, after things went south.

Fires smoldered and the wounded were tended to.  "Fate has smiled on us today", thought Lt. Zuberi, as he considered that his platoon had taken no casualties.  Others were not so lucky.  His best friend, Lt. Amani was gone, as were all of the second platoon HQ.  Their Saracen turned into a human bonfire after being hit by an RPG.  Zuberi's eyes began to well, as he decided to focus on the task at hand, ordering his men to re-stock ammunition and water.  He didn't know if he had lead them well.


I experimented with a method of controlling orders, by creating personality profiles for the commanders of both sides, and having their actions and reactions swayed by the profiles and dice during the game.  Mostly this tended to cause a lot of hesitation before orders would be issued, and maybe didn't work so well.

The result was a little odd, as the unsupported Uwandan armor resulted in a long stall in the attack on the south and center, and lead me to believe that Uwanda was losing for the longest time.  As the game progressed, the Mugabian commander issued orders, then reversed or revised them multiple times, causing his reserve force to mostly just move around uselessly some distance behind the fighting.

Mugabia's devastating losses on the ground were offset a little by Uwanda's continuing bad luck with aircraft. Four of six aircraft were damaged or destroyed.

Anyway,  losses were as follows:

5x  Centurion III
6x  Saracen
3x  Saladin
1x  Ferret

2x  Magister damaged
1x  Strikemaster damaged
1x Strikemaster destroyed

26 KIA
12 WIA

3x  T55
10x  T34/85
9x  BTR60
2x  BRDM2
1x  ZSU57
2x  ZU23/2
2x  SU100
6x  122mm Gun
7x  BTR152

81 KIA
24 WIA (18) taken POW
1 MIA  taken POW

Uwanda Captured:

19x POWs
1x BTR60
5x BTR152
2x ZU23/2

Saturday, October 8, 2016

15mm Modern African Buildings Completed

I managed to finish four of the five buildings that I started a couple of weeks ago.  They are based on photos of buildings from Kenya and surrounding nations. Construction is from styrene and blue foam.

The Bright Future Store, for all your refreshment needs.
A particularly nice outhouse.  It was located behind a small white cottage with a thatch roof. 
The cottage looked to be more Tolkien, than African.
This was noted as having been the house of a prominent person.  The actual house had been destroyed in the photos, this is somewhat speculative, but should be relatively close to the design of the original structure.
It was described as a bar.

Hoping to get these into a game this week.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My Origins Haul

Earlier this year, I managed to make it to Origins for part of a day, but was really struggling with an ailment, so didn't stay too long.  Despite being pre-registered there was still a significant wait to get in.  I did manage to get through the dealer room and reinforced Star Fleet and the Klingon Empire a little, courtesy of Lou Zocchi's fine starship models.

In all, I picked up three Klingon D7 cruisers, seven Federations ships (a mix of scouts, heavy cruisers, dreadnoughts, and a tug) and some decals.

I had been concerned that these might no longer be available (and even read as much this past weekend), but need not have worried, as there were plenty to be had.

I had hoped to pick up some other stuff too, but Reaper didn't bring their metal figs (I'm not a big fan of the "Bones" casting material), and a couple others sold out of things that I was wanting, so didn't spend as much as I might have.

There is always a lot of neat stuff to see there, though I wish miniatures had a greater presence.

Anyway, here are pix of a couple of the ships:

A Klingon D-7.
My first Federation Scout.
All of the Federation ships are multi-piece plastic kits; the Klingon and Romulan ships are both one piece metal castings.  All are very nice quality.  In addition to the ships, he sells decal sets and has a huge range of ship names for the Federation vessels.
I'm going to paint the Federation ships in the color from TOS.  I'll be working on these in the near future and will share some pix of them painted, probably around Christmas. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

A Busy Weekend

The weekend started out rough, having to replace the fuel pump in my wife's car, which was interrupted by several hours of monsoon-like rain.  During a couple of lulls, I did manage to finally get the pump and sending unit replaced.  Turning on the car afterward indicated that the pump was working, and that the exhaust line had broken again.  I had replaced all but one piece a couple of months ago, and sure enough, the part that I didn't replace broke, when I started up the car.  So, managed to get that fixed Friday evening.

Saturday was partially tied up taking my wife to a scrapbooking Expo (the reason the car had to be fixed during the monsoon).  Funny part is that I actually found some bits for use in scratch-building space ships and sci-fi doo-dads at the scrapbooking Expo.  After the scrapbooking adventure, we took a long-cut back home, so that I could drop the wife at her parents for awhile, and I got to stop at an old friend's and play a game.

The game presented by Craig of Gaming Models, and was a late WWII Western Front shoot-em up.  There were four of us, with one guy playing his first ever miniatures game.  The game was simplified somewhat in that there were no infantry, just vehicles and some towed guns for the Germans.

The Americans, played by myself and another of us old-timers, had to push the Germans off the high ground two-thirds of the way down the table.  We had probably 25 Shermans and an assortment of other stuff, including some M10s, M5 lights tanks, armored cars, etc.

The Germans, run by the newbie with some help from Craig,  had a couple of Tiger Is, a few StuGs, and an assortment of towed 75mm and 88mm guns. 

The Americans had a 25 percent chance of air support each turn.  I regained my old dice rolling for and failed on my first nine rolls, finally getting it on the last turn of the game.

Craig's games are always a blast, and this was no exception.  Despite being a stripped down somewhat to teach the basic rules mechanisms to the new guy, it played out about right, with the Americans taking a pounding, the Germans doing well, all of us enjoying the typical bad gamer humor, bad die-rolls, and great times.

In the end, the Germans achieved total victory, smashing the Americans, and holding the high ground.   The game was totally successful in creating a new miniatures gaming convert, who had a great time, and was already planning lining up his research sources, and planning miniatures purchases, by the end of battle. Unfortunately, I had to leave while the post game discussion was still going on, as I had to stop at the in-laws, pick up the wife, and drive 120 or so miles home.

Sunday I managed to get some work done on my latest batch of modern African buildings, got some much needed cleaning and organizing done in the basement, found my mis-placed Origins convention haul that had disappeared shortly after the convention, and made a little progress on a couple of new 15mm vehicle masters. 

A rough start, but a great weekend in the end.